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Baoen Temple

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Baoen Temple Introduction

Bao'en Temple lies in Pingwu County of Mianyang City, Sichuan province, some 184 km away from the city center. It is one of the largest and the best preserved ancient architectural complex of Ming Dynasty in Sichuan province. Bao'en Temple was initially built in 1440, which has a history for about 600 years. There was a rumor that Wang Xi, an official in Pingwu, attempted to rebel the central government and stealthily built a palace by mimicking the Forbidden City in Beijing. This action was perceived by the court and found guilty later. So Wang Xi claimed that his just constructed a temple to "requite royal graciousness" (Bao'en). As a result, this building is called "Bao'en Temple". Resembling the layout of Forbidden City in Beijing, Bao'en Temple is also regarded as "The hidden Forbidden City in mountains".

Bao\'en Temple

Bao'en Temple covers an area of about 27,800 square meters, about 278 m east-west, 100 m south -north. Facing east, the whole architectural objects occupies 3,518 square meters, with the plane layout gradually goes upward from east to west. The main building is arranged along the central axis and in symmetry from left to right, which is a perfect example of royal style. This temple is divided into three courtyards from front to the back. The first courtyard ranges from the mountain gate to the Tianwang Hall, with three bridges in the middle and a bell tower in the north. Glass horoscopes wall, steps, statues of Suanni, Buddhist stone pillars and plaza intersperse amongst. The second courtyard locates behind the Tianwang Hall. It is composed of the Main Hall and three side halls, Huayan Hall, Dabei Hall, Tianwang Hall. Behind the Main Hall, there is the third courtyard which comprises Tablet Pavilions (south and north), 34 porches, the Main Hall and the Wanfo Pavilion, which is surrounded by a refectory, storerooms, and the hall for dragon patriarch, etc.

Bao\'en Temple

Bao'en Temple has six major features.

First, its timber. All the wood materials, like pillars, girders, rafters, purlins, are valuable nanmu which owned only by royal families. Nanmu has unique qualities that free from moth-eaten, cobweb and birds. This structural feature remains unparalleled nationwide.

Second, the Thousand-hand Bodhisattva, which is a majestic and efficacious gold statue in the Mercy Hall. Covered by gold, the Bodhisattva heads a crown, wears exquisite chiffon frock and floor-length accessories. This statue stands on a lotus pedestal, shoeless, with a charming posture. The main body is delicately caved by a 9-meter-tall nanmu, aging a thousand years. Behind its body, 1004 hands densely abut each other in different gestures. When staring up, all the hands orderly form into 15 arcs, just like a blooming golden chrysanthemum, beautiful and magnificent.

Bao\'en Temple

Third, the wonderful rotational sutra-pitaka in Huayan Hall. It is 7 m both in height and diameter, and divided into 7 storeys, looking like a 7-storey pagoda. For Buddhism, turning it a circle means reciting "six-word" dharani one time, which can quell disasters and prolong life. This rotational sutra-pitaka has a complex structure, special manufacture, smart craft and multifarious carving decoration. There are all kinds of statues, colored woodcarving, classical Buddha-statues on the sutra-putaka, which possess high historical and artistic values. Moreover, this sutra-putaka is the best preserved one in China.

Fourth, Bao'en Temple is the gathering place of dragons. In the temple, places like girder, ceiling caisson, cresting eaves tile, and even censer, tablet, bell, etc., carved or painted, cast or modeled, all highlight the image of dragon. In particular, the four 7-m dragons of clay in Huayan Hall are the most exquisite ones. There are 9,999 dragons and a dragon throne embossed with "long live the King", amounting to 10,000 dragons. So Bao'en Temple is also called the "Dragon Palace in mountains".

Bao\'en Temple

Fifth, "Dougong" (a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam) in Bao'en Temple. Dougong is a key feature of ancient Chinese buildings and also an impressive wonder of world architectural history. The usage of dougong in construction has certain rules. While the brackets in Bao'en Temple, whether in terms of quantity or pattern, are all the best across the country. There are 36 types, more than 2,000, of ingenious and strictly designed dougong in this temple, so that it is also called the "Museum of Dougong".

Last, the precious fresco of Ming Dynasty, covering more than 300 sq. m. in the Main Hall and Wanfo Pavilion. These frescos have rich contents: majestic and solemn Monarchs; spruce Gods and pretty nymphs, holding articles of tribute; robust and ferocious-looking kings, warriors of Heaven; courteous monks in temple, putting their palms together devoutly. Backgrounded by flowing clouds of heaven, all the vivid figures reach up to 3 m, arraying in harmonious arrangement. The lively fresco on wall combine with the serene gold statue of Buddha, presenting a glorious scene of a myriad of stars surrounding the moon.

Bao\'en Temple

The rigorous and magnificent configuration of Bao'en Temple is actually a mosaic of all architectural advantages, reflecting the style transformation from Song, Yuan to Ming, Qing. No wonder domestic and overseas architects comment it as the "rare heritage from early Ming Dynasty" and an "original masterpiece". In 1996, Bao'en Temple was listed on the "National Key Cultural Relic Protection Sites".

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